Tag Archives: ITP Core II

Ideas on Digital Assignments in response to June 2009 Academic Commons

repost from Core II ITP blog:

I recently got lost in time as I perused the June 2009 issue of Academic Commons.  For years I thought peruse meant to leisurely browse, but then I learned it means to read deeply or scrutinize. I still think of the word peruse in a playful way.

These articles seemed to reinforce many of the ideas we talked about last semester, and continue to discuss in the current ITP term. One of the main framing points for these papers is that in the current era students need to practice analysis of material not content regurgitation (Wesch, 2009).

Each article is quite rich so I’ll just pull a few of the parts that struck me and maybe people can add their perspectives on what they found most intriguing, whether from my post or otherwise.

Bass et al. (2009) quote Davidson saying “The whole system of credentialing, grading, evaluating, writing recommendations, all of that, is antithetical to true participatory learning formats and learning communities. Higher education has never figured out if its primary goal is learning or if its primary goal is training citizens for elite positions of class power and leadership. The whole system of ranking (among institutions and among students) is based on “distinctions,” as Bourdieu would say. Participatory learning, especially when it is anonymous, contests the bases and even the sanctity of many of those distinctions”.

I’m puzzled; Higher ed is both, is neither, is both but shouldn’t be either? Agree, disagree?

The Yancey article on E-portfolios was intriguing and is perhaps especially relevant to Humanities or creative writing and digital art programs. I wonder how relevant an e-portfolio is for social science or hard science students? I guess this comes down to the question of what is valued. In my field, psych, the value seems to be placed on tight impersonal writing. I wonder what a student would gain by developing an E-portfolio of their research reports. Okay they would gain knowledge about digital tools, but how does this help them if their goal is to be a biologist? Wouldn’t their time be best spent crafting their writing and reading about their content area?

If pressed, I might say that one activity for a psych student could be to do a ds106 type creation of their research project. Perhaps film the data collection, a few interview clips, and then share this. As an instructor I would be a little concerned about the department giving me a hard time for having undergrads film their participants and not following all of the necessary ethical procedures for recruitment. I guess that would push me to be better versed on these procedures, so it could be a good thing.

Finally, I find assessment is one of the most challenging parts of teaching a course. I use a research paper rubric and a presentation rubric. Even with a rubric I find it really challenging to grade student presentations. Perhaps it comes from an inner contradiction about who I am as an instructor; I want my students to work hard and earn their grades. But how do I measure ‘hard work’. I don’t want to be a dream crusher nor do I want to be a pushover, and striking the balance is a great challenge. I like what Rhodes is doing in creating a broad interdisciplinary rubric. One shortcoming of the Rhodes rubric is there is no section for basic writing mechanics.

Any interesting ideas for integrating digital assignments into the courses you teach or participate in? Any assessment ideas? Other thoughts?


A Day Reading About MOOCS and Walking the Dogs in Snow

As noted above I spent the day reading about MOOCS and walking the dog in the snow. Both projects seem somehow circular. After reading the following:

(this is just half the ‘assigned readings’ for this week, praps I’ll read the rest tomorrow).

After reading Shirky’s piece I was compelled by his argument that MOOCS might at least be equivalent if not superior to the typical large lecture hall format. But I have since returned to near my original position that MOOCS can’t provide the interpersonal connections and experiences that make learning dynamic and exciting to me.

For example, last semester I graded nearly 100 undergrad papers. Although I did my best to explain each comment, many students still needed to meet with me and discuss specific structural and conceptual comments. Perhaps this can be done online, but somehow track changes came up short. It was only when a student and I sat across from each other and reviewed each comment that I noted a look of understanding that was often reflected by improvements in their next paper.

In addition, there are interpersonal aspects of sharing a space with other learners that I’ll address in the next post.

On another note after nearly three hour long walks in the blizzard with Boomers she too has come full circle and is almost due again.

High point?

Confronting Riverside’s Abominable Snowman:

boomer snowman


click here to read MOOCS Part II